Mencius Does Not Give Up Easily

Mencius, a Chinese philosopher, advocated that a man of virtue should be benevolent in all his dealings. He professed the innate goodness and the moral character of the individual. He stressed that if one maintains goodness and diligently upgrades one's moral character, then one would mirror the morals of "Yao and Shun" [Yao and Shun were legendary Chinese rulers who upheld morality and were considered sages around 2358-2258 BC]. Mencius believed in truthfulness. He philosophized and discoursed on the merit of virtuous conduct. He never wavered and steadfastly advised others to do good. He did not give up easily once he set foot on a path and he was seen as truly inspirational and encouraging by many.

Mencius visited the King of Qi twice to advise him to rule the country benevolently, but his advice was not accepted both times. When Mencius left Qi the second time, Yin Shi of Qi told Mencius' student, Gao Zi, "It was foolish of Mencius to not realize that the King of Qi would never attain the leadership attributes of Shang Tang, King Wu of Zhou or others. Despite realizing that the king would never become a capable leader, Mencius did not give up. Does this suggest that he wanted to benefit himself? Mencius traveled from far away to meet with the king, and when he did not succeed in his quest, Mencius stayed in Zhou Yi and did not leave until three nights later. Why did he stay? I'm not very pleased with the things Mencius did." Gao Zi told Mencius Yin Shi's words after some time.

Mencius replied, "How could Yin Shi know what I was thinking? I traveled from far away to advise the King of Qi about how to rule a nation, and I did so willingly. When my suggestions were not accepted, I had to leave the king's presence. I stayed in Zhou Yi for three nights, even though three nights was too short. I waited to see if the king would summon me and I could then try to persuade him. However, when the king did not ask for my presence, I decided to leave. Although I left, I still held hopes that the King of Qi would accept my counsel. It is not too late for the king to govern the country benevolently. Should he be able to do that, he will bring peace to the people of Qi and the rest of the world. I still hold the hope that the king may change his mind. I'm not narrow-minded. Just because the king did not accept my advice, I hold no anger or discontent. I did not leave in a hurry, but gave the king the chance to ponder my suggestions."

After Yin Shi was told Mencius words, he said, "I'm such an ignoble person!"

Upon hearing that the King of Qi wanted to conquer the world with a military force, Mencius rushed to Qi for a third time and advised the king in the ways of ruling a nation. He finally succeeded in his quest and the king willingly chose benevolent governance over military force. Thus, a war was averted. Peace and order was restored in the nation of Qi.

Mencius traveled to others nations to promote moral values and benevolent governance. He told his students, "If you care about others, but they still remain aloof, then you should ask yourself if you are truly kind. If you advice others unsuccessfully, you should ask yourself if you are truly wise. If you are courteous to others but they do no reciprocate, then you should ask yourself if you are truly sincere. When you do something but do not get a response, don't complain about others. You should first look within and find where you have to change yourself."

The students asked Mencius why he did not become arrogant or subservient, and why he held no fear of the powerful and the upper class, he said, "Although he is wealthy, I am benevolent. Although he is of the upper class, I possess righteousness. So how could I hold resentment?"

Mencius thought that the difference between people is not a matter of being rich or belonging to the upper class versus being poor and of the lower class. It is whether one can maintain a noble character and conduct oneself as not to "feel shame before Heaven and fellow human beings." He believed that mankind should return to their kind nature and not be confused and misled by external material objects and desires. He understood that this requires to be resolute and persistent.

Today, the principles of the universe - Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, are being given to the world. Those with insight are practicing, disseminating, and clarifying the truth, in order to awaken people's conscience and give them the righteous choice of protecting and maintaining the truth. This is truly being responsible and concerned for others!

* * *

You are welcome to print and circulate all articles published on Clearharmony and their content, but please quote the source.